My name is Autumn Duncan. I have worked at Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office for almost 12 years. On Oct. 27, 2013, I was on my way home from work when my life was changed forever.
I was approaching the golf course on Route 11 when a deer stepped in front of me. I remember swerving in an attempt to keep from hitting her. Mistake, I know, but a natural reaction.
My second mistake was the fact that in my hurry to get home to my family after a long work weekend, I neglected to buckle m y seatbelt. I normally have it on but just forgot, as I’m sure others do on occasion.
I remember feeling my SUV start to roll but do not remember anything much after that. From talking to my coworkers and the fire and REMSI personnel who responded (all of whom are not just colleagues but friends as well), my vehicle rolled approximately four to five times. I was ejected from the vehicle and was found by passing motorists around 200 feet from the car.
I was severely injured. I sustained a traumatic brain injury. I broke or fractured every rib on the right side of my chest which caused my right lung to collapse. I broke one rib on the left side directly over my heart. I fractured the C1 vertebrae in my neck, which is a very bad injury. I sustained a burst fracture to the thoracic region of my spine which had to be repaired with four titanium rods and eight screws. I fractured my right shoulder blade and shattered the ulna in my lower right arm. That injury was repaired with a large metal plate and six screws. I fractured and dislocated my left thumb which also required surgery. I lacerated my kidney, ruptured an adrenal gland, bruised my spleen and fractured my pelvis. Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Regional Emergency Medical Services, and Dublin Fire Department were on scene in a very short time, thanks to my two dispatcher coworkers who took the calls and got them there.
I know the deputies, paramedics and firefighters who were on scene. However, I am not going to list them here because I would undoubtedly leave someone out, which would make me feel awful.
But these people saved my life. More than one injury I received could have taken my life, but these guys prevented that from happening. Some people wonder their whole lives if they made a difference through their work. To those of you who were there with me that day – you don’t have to wonder because you have. And if you don’t believe me, please ask my 8-year-old daughter, Sydney, or my husband, Scott, my parents, Earl and Frances Duncan, my brother, Heath Duncan, or anyone else in my family. So to all of you who were there that day, thank you. The words don’t seem like enough, but it’s all I can do.
I was taken to LewisGale Hospital-Pulaski’s emergency room and while I don’t remember, I am assured by family and friends that I received top notch care. Doctors then determined that my injuries were so severe that I was airlifted to Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
I stayed in the hospital for 12 days, even though my doctors speculated that I’d be there for two months or more. On the twelfth day I was transferred to Roanoke Rehabilitation Center where I spent 17 days. Twenty-nine days after my accident, I returned home; a medical surprise to everyone.
But while I was hospitalized, many people in this county and other states were graciously donating money to my family and me to assist with medical bills and gas money for my family to go back and forth.
My coworkers and friends worked tirelessly to put together a spaghetti benefit dinner in my honor, which was held on Nov. 24. Many of my coworkers from the sheriff’s office and my husband’s coworkers from REMSI, member of Dublin Volunteer Fire Department, along with other friends and volunteers worked very hard that day and raised a significant amount of money for me. I can hardly think about all the work that went into the dinner, or all the people who came and donated, friends and strangers who gave, without getting very emotional.
I’ve heard it said that until you hit rock bottom, you never know who your true friends are. It’s true, very true.
So to everyone who said a prayer for me, who sent a card or flowers, who called, texted or messaged; visited, brought a meal, candy or cookies; volunteered at the dinner, attended the dinner; offered to assist my family or me in any way, or donated money or gift certificates; to every emergency service worker on the scene that day – every nurse, doctor, and therapist who has worked on my case; to every one of my coworkers who have been by my side since day one helping me finding the strength to get through this; to every member of my family who have also been by my side since the beginning keeping me motivated and to keep my sense of humor and good spirits up while taking care of me, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you ever so much.
My recovery has been long and difficult, and while I am not completely better, I will be returning back to work very soon which would not have been possible without the help from the great people of this county.
Thank you again,